Los Banos – conclusion

Los Banos in art


Inside the Los Baños compound, all was suddenly noise and confusion. “That morning, as I walked out of the barracks with my family to line up for 7:00 am roll call, I looked up into the sky and over a field near our camp saw several C-47 transport planes,” the paratroopers took approximately 15 minutes to assemble and move the 900 yards or so to the barrier around the compound.

Los Banos line of amtraks

“After a rapid assembly,” remembered Lieutenant Ringler, “there was only minor enemy resistance, which was eliminated.” Some of the men used a dry riverbed on the edge of the drop zone that angled toward the camp to provide cover as they rushed forward.”

467th Reg. support

“Within 20 minutes of the first shots, the firing seemed to die down. Most of the Japanese guards were either killed or fled to the south and west, away from the incoming paratroopers. All the guards doing their morning calisthenics in an open area to the south of the compound were either killed or scared off.

Los Banos liberation, pic taken by Jerry Sam

“Although most of the sentries and pillboxes had already been silenced, some had to be eliminated by the Company B paratroopers”, remembered Robert A. Wheeler, a 12-year-old internee.

Los Banos evac internee on stretcher

Young internee Bill Rivers remembered, “A whole herd of the damnedest vehicles I’d ever seen, roared into the camp. When I saw the white star with the two bars on each side, I feared that the Russians had somehow rescued us, as I’d never seen that insignia before. But when I heard one soldier profanely order [another soldier nicknamed] ‘Red’ to give him the field phone, I believe I heaved a sigh of relief.”

Dr, Dana Nance & wife, Anna in TN 1939. Only medical doctor in camp

Two of the first men to jump out of the amtracs were General Whitney and his mysterious civilian companion. As Major Burgess recalled, the two men went into the camp and after a short time General Whitney came out carrying “several boxes well tied together containing documents which he deemed to be of considerable military significance. I didn’t believe it at first, but he was really sincere about keeping those boxes together and was with them all of the time.”

USN nurse Dorothy Sill (US Navy pic)

Although the contents of those boxes were never made public, it is believed that the information on the captured papers was used against the Japanese during subsequent war crimes trials.


About 9:30 am, 21/2 hours after the Los Baños Raid had begun, Colonel Gibbs and his fully loaded amtracs finally began the slow crawl back to San Antonio and Laguna de Bay. Those people that could not fit in the amtracs began walking back to the beach.

Maryknoll sister before becoming prisoners

Father William R. McCarthy, an internee Catholic priest, remembered those that walked. “Men, women and children followed,” he wrote, “bundles under their arms or dangling from sticks, carrying their scant possessions with them…. With many others we walked over the highway of freedom against a background of flames, as one straw barracks quickly followed another in an all-consuming fire fanned by the morning breeze.”

Registration and temporary housing back at Old Bilibid

Unfortunately, when the Japanese discovered that the Los Baños prisoners had been spirited away from under their very noses, they retaliated against the Filipino residents in the barrio of Los Baños. Shortly after finding the internment camp empty and destroyed by fire, the Japanese rounded up an estimated 1,400 Filipinos, tied them to the stilts holding up their houses, and set the structures on fire.

For these crimes and for others committed against the Filipino people and the internees at Los Baños, Lt. Gen. Fujishige and Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, a brutally sadistic supply officer at the camp, were summarily found guilty by the subsequent war crimes commission and executed.

Sadaaki Konishi – as a POW himself

This was an extraordinary operation , expertly carried out in one day of dramatic courage and cooperation in battle.  Not one person was lost saving 2,122 people.


Resources: The Los Baños Raid and History of the 11th Airborne Division, by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; Rescue at Los Baños, by Bruce Henderson.

Click on images to enlarge.


Military Humor – 




Farewell Salutes – 

Masao Akiyama – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, 100th Battalion

Billy Bates – Dallas, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, LT., P-51 pilot

Max Desfor (104) – Rockville, MD; Korea, War photographer, Pulitzer Prize

Ralph Finch – Santa Rosa, CA; US Army, WWII, medic

John Gazo – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 408 “Goose” Squadron, POW

Carlos Hathcock – North Little Rock, AR; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt., Silver Star

Gustave Jacobsen – Tacoma, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner 32 missions (Ret. 33y.)

Maureen Lancaster – Norwich, ENG; WRAF, WWII, radio operator

Bernard Madnick – CT & Delray, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Ellyson

Verrill ‘Sonny’ Worcester – Jonesport, ME; US Army, Vietnam, Iran, Sgt. Maj. (Ret. 22 y.)



About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 23, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 101 Comments.

  1. No one lost out of so many prisoners. That was quite a feat!


  2. You wouldn’t blame the Filipinos for hating the Japs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I finally got to finish reading!!! Thank you for your stories- it was worth the cliffhangers :)Isn’t it fantastic to read about an operation where they got everyone out? The retaliation story is so sad, though. What terrible things people can do to each other 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sad that so many Phillipino lives were lost as a result of the raid. I have always thought of Los Banos as a great victory but had never known…at what cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Life has interfered with me reading weeks worth’s of your post but I save them all. What caught my attention is the image of the nuns/sisters. My father spoke little of his time served. But I remember him telling me about help rescuing nuns that were held prisoners and I could be wrong of the year that his unit was asked to come back to receive the medals they were never given. I think that was in 1976. I am wondering if these are the same sisters that he spoke of. Wish he’d shared more but I assume it was way too painful and best kept buried deep for his sanity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is quite possible, but I am unaware of it. I do know the Maryknoll sisters have held anniversary dinners with the troops, I believe in NY. It is said they gave the 11th their nickname “Angels”.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Courage and suffering go hand in hand with cruelty and infamy. Sad that one so often emerges from the other; the stuff of which heroes are made.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well worth following that story gp, no casualties in saving the internees, sad part was the loss of Filipino lives in retaliation, justice was served in the finish with the execution of Lt. Gen. Fujishige and Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, albeit a small price for the lives of the Filipinos.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such fine blogs on an largely overlooked event that never gets the publicity it deserves. Unlike the posed for flag raising on Iwo Jima. You mentioned that the war in the Pacific was by far over shadowed by the war in Europe. So true.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. have to read this attached document, but it is too huge and I do not have much time.
    In Battle of Manila, the air strikes of the United States also brought a cruel result in that it ignored the citizens of Manila.
    Additional note: For Nanjing, China’s accept without questing is a mistake,should learn the opinion of the Japanese government.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mijn volle bewondering voor die moedige mannen en wat erg dat Filippinos met hun huizen in brand werden gestoken


    • Ik begrijp het, Mary Lou. We zijn erg blij met het overweldigende succes van de 11e Airborne, maar met afschuw over de wraak op de burgers. Het maakt het allemaal bitterzoet.


  11. But when I heard one soldier profanely order [another soldier nicknamed] ‘Red’ to give him the field phone, I believe I heaved a sigh of relief.”This confirmed they were Americans 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ll join the chorus of them unhappy with the aftermath and it’s not because I don’t want to hear it.

    I remember stories from WW II (first hand) about the response to partisans resisting the occupation where my parents lived; the civilians usually paid the price. Often, a disproportionately heavy price.

    I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I can be a little slow. I hadn’t realized that this raid happened on the same day as Iwo Jima — making today the anniversary. I suspect that you planned it that way, and that I just missed the significance of the date when I started reading.

    The difficulties of carrying out such a complex mission in an era without today’s advantages in communication are obvious. On the other hand, when I left Liberia in the 70’s, there still were no cell phones, no internet, and very little simple telephone service. A friend had decided to cross the Sahara with buddies, in a Jeep. I was going to travel overland and air. Our plan was to meet under the big clock in Victoria Station in London six weeks later, at a certain day and time. When that day arrived, we both were there. The experience gives me some insight into how things like this mission could be carried out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are not slow, Linda. Especially this time in the war – SO MUCH is going on, it really is difficult to capture it all chronologically without confusing the heck out of everyone!! Don’t think for a moment that I have it all together either!! 🙂 hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! This account is about heroes and villains as is the account of all of WWII. I co-taught World History last year. My co-teacher had reproduced a chapter from the diary of Nanking about the atrocities of a Japanese attack on a village in China. I have tried to find a copy of that book but have been unable to, can you help me, please?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great outcome for the prisoners. So sad about the Filipinos.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great story, and enjoyed the inclusion of the artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A brilliant undertaking, but I am saddened and horrified by the fate meted out to the local Filipinos.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A wonderful story with a happy ending. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A great example of an extremely well planned and executed military operation. It must be remembered that this was planned in the days before satellites, real-time intelligence gathering, instant communications and watches had to be wound up by hand every day to maintain accurate time. In the time that the intelligence had been gathered, analysed and the plan made, so much could have changed so there was a huge element of luck involved. This operation also says a lot about the character and loyalty of the Filipino, they had lived under Japanese occupation since 1942 and knew the risks of Japanese reprisals, but regardless of that threw their full support behind the operation, with tragic consequences. It is a shame that this operation was overshadowed by military operations in Europe and the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Very sad to read about the retaliation to the civilians, but it helps us understand a complete picture of the enemy we were fighting. What an incredible mission. I’ll bet every person who participated remembered this all their life.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It impressed me that he referred to the people with him as “my family”. What a closeness they must have felt. Also liked calling their escape route “the highway of freedom”. What a savage retaliation by burning the villagers staked to their straw houses.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thanks G.P. for another great post – or in this case, series of posts. I was generally aware of the raid, but you brought out many of the missing details for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Amazing how quickly things can change and tables can turn, in a war. One minute some guards are exercising, and the next minute they’re on the run. I really enjoyed reading this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Excellent post Sir, I am going to reblog it for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Though it pains me to read, I am so very fortunate to learn the history of my homeland through your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. War is a thing, we seem to live with it, but cruelty, that is so evil, it beggars belief.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. That’s an amazing story from inception to the carrying it out Not to lose a person despite the enemy pillboxes with machine guns is such justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Not one person was lost….except the Japanese soldiers who were killed. And how was there a twelve year old living in the camp? What was he doing there? Exciting story, GP! Children were also in the Borneo camps too.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This is a wonderful series, my great Incle was a paratrooper I’m Japan in WW2 , career military for 25 years in the Army. He turned 92 last week.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Yes, the killing of the Filipino’s does take the shine off it, but brilliant rescue.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. There again, retaliation followed by killing civilians. Glad you did not cut that out. The effort that went with this rescue was unbelievable but it was always overshadowed by Iwo Jima which happened on the same day. I just read History Today and never mentioned Los Banos.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Excellent series! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. A magnificent achievement

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Great to hear that the camp was finally liberated without loss. But how cruel of the Japanese to retaliate by burning 1400 civilians. Unforgivable
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: